KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN: Alarming spike in expulsion of citizens arbitrarily stripped of their nationality

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11 Mar 2016
[International Secretariat]

Eleven people could face imminent expulsion from Bahrain tomorrow if their deportation orders are upheld in two separate appeal hearings, as Bahrain’s authorities increasingly resort to the extreme measure of banishing individuals after revoking their citizenship, said Amnesty International.

Two people were already forced to leave Bahrain last month, while a court confirmed a third deportation order yesterday on 6 March.

“The increasing tendency to resort to expulsion of individuals who have had their nationality arbitrarily revoked is a chilling development that points to the wider erosion of human rights in Bahrain in recent years. Expulsion increasingly appears to be the Bahraini authorities’ weapon of choice when it comes to casting out ‘unwanted’ individuals and silencing dissent,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

Last year Bahrain witnessed a 10-fold increase in nationality revocations with 208 people stripped of their nationality in 2015, compared to just 21 in 2014. In recent weeks the rising number of deportations has raised fears that 2016 will see a steep upsurge in the number of people expelled from Bahrain.

On 6 March a Bahraini court confirmed the deportation order of Masaud Jahromi, a university lecturer, who is one of a group of 72 Bahrainis who were arbitrarily stripped of their nationality by the Ministry of Interior in January 2015 for their involvement in broadly defined “illegal acts” which included advocating for “regime change” and defaming “brotherly countries”. He is at imminent risk of expulsion.

On 8 March at least one more person from the same group of 72 will also be at imminent risk of being expelled if their deportation order is upheld.

A separate appeal hearing will take place on the same day to contest a deportation order for 10 other Bahraini citizens. If upheld they will also be at immediate risk of expulsion. The 10 are from a group of 31 people including former MPs, lawyers, human rights defenders and opposition activists.
All individuals who have had their nationality revoked are forced to hand in their passports and ID documentation and apply for a residency permit as a foreigner - or leave the country. Those who have not been granted a residency permit and have remained in Bahrain have been charged with “illegally residing” in the country and given a deportation order.

“Arbitrarily stripping citizens of their nationality on the basis of vague allegations is an outrageous breach of Bahrain’s international human rights obligations. It is shocking that citizens of Bahrain are being rendered stateless and being deprived of the right to reside in their own country,” said James Lynch.

Amendments to Bahraini law in recent years have also broadened the reasons for which an individual could have his or her nationality revoked. This now includes “anyone whose acts contravene his duty of loyalty to the Kingdom”. The new amendments also empower the Minister of Interior to revoke the nationality of any Bahraini citizen who takes up another nationality - except that of another Gulf state - without prior permission.

7 March 2016

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